Gary Kildall certainly deserves a far kinder assessment of his contributions to the personal computer that he has received to date. He developed the first micro-computer / personal computer Operating System (CP/M), he developed many innovative products (such as a true multi-tasking version of PC-DOS, GEM - a graphical user interface, etc), and he was a true pioneer in the early industry and helped countless people become involved in personal computers. He also shared his enthusiasm and ideas freely.
Bill Gates, and others, were only too happy to get early bird previews of Gary's products / ideas. From what I understand, these people were not too keen to return these favours.
Without wanting to spoil the story in this episode, it is interesting that the story presented in popular media isn't exactly the whole truth. Gary was out flying his plane when IBM came calling, but apparently this was all pre-arranged and he was actually delivering material to IBM, and then returning for the meeting with the IBM delegation in the afternoon.
(This does sound strange to me though ... Why didn't he send the material to IBM via courier ? Or, why didn't he send the material back to IBM with the delegation when the meeting was over ? Then he could have concentrated on his important meeting with IBM - or had more time to think about accepting IBM's Non-Disclosure Agreement - instead of flying his plane or doing menial delivery activities).
I believe that Gary's untimely death has robbed him of some of the recognition that may have eventually come his way if only he had lived longer.
In fact, over the years, I have often wondered about how Gary died - he was only 52 - and none of the articles / TV shows I remember reading / watching shed any real light on this. I hoped this episode of the Computer Chronicles would shed light on this. But, alas, this wasn't to be.
So, I did a Google search, an according to this WEB site :
"The Circumstances of his death are pretty murky. One report attributed it to a fall from a ladder, another an incident at a bar, and another to a heart attack. "
Which is interesting to say the least.
Anyway, it is a very interesting episode and well worth watching.
Mike "Moose" O'Malley
Moose's Software Valley - Established July, 1996.